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Science

New Clues About First Americans 11

Genoaschild writes: "CNN has an interesting article about the possible origins of early Americans and their similarities to the cultures of where they came from."
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New Clues About First Americans

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    I, too, read "The Mismeasure of Man" one time and found Morton's "scientific method" appalling. For those who are clueless, what Morton essentially did was take all the scientific "evidence" that supported his "theory" and compiled them as his "proof" and tossed away all contradicting data regarding skull width, volume, etc. He deliberately "fudged" his data to the point that Hitler would have been proud of Morton. Stephen Gould then took Morton's research notes, examined, and exposed of all of Morton's "mistakes". Having had to write an essay about this incident in the history of modern science, I basically concluded that Morton did this to either support the then popular belief in racial superiority and/or get more [undeserved] funding.
  • ..I learned about were kicked out of England for being prudes. No wonder we still don't have boobs on TV like in Europe.

    Not true. Most people on TV are boobs.

  • by Medievalist ( 16032 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @01:25PM (#2179733)
    I didn't see any mention of which graves were robbed to get all these skulls, but I have a suspicion....

    In the early 1800s Samuel George Morton built a huge and famous collection of skulls. These skulls were garnered by his correspondents (Morton being an eminent naturalist of the day) from all over the world, but according to this site [common-place.org] were mostly native american.
    One of the previous posters was decrying the way some tribes object to the pillaging of their graveyards - in Morton's day, similar objections were made to the way the Indians resisted having their heads chopped off. Benighted savages, how dare they resist the progress of science!
    A retired friend of mine was once the curator of the Morton skull collection (aka "the American Golgotha"). Originally housed at the Academy of Natural Sciences [acnatsci.org], it has since been moved to the University of Pennsylvania, where it still comprises over a thousand skulls despite an unknown amount of pilfering.
    Everybody's got a theory [amphilsoc.org] of where the Amerinds came from; but Morton went a bit beyond that. He used his skulls to prove that middle-aged caucasian males (which, oddly enough, was a group containing Samuel Morton) were the pinnacle of evolution - the smartest, most bestest people of all!
    The debunking of Morton's conclusions was completed by Stephen Gould, in his essay "The Mismeasure of Man". I highly recommend Gould's early works, incidentally, although his recent stuff is tedious.
    Morton's infamously flawed racial ladder of intelligence, based on his measurements of humans skulls, were a part of the justification for Nazism and many other racist movements. Even today there are those who insist that measuring skulls can give meaningful insights to guide current events. I think the measurements, and especially the conclusions drawn from them, say more about the researchers than they do about the objects measured.
    If you are really into the interpretation of dimensions of crania, you must visit the phrenology website [freeserve.co.uk].
    --Charlie
  • by scotpurl ( 28825 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @08:16AM (#2179734)
    1. About every 10 years, the Bering Strait freezes over, so you don't have to wait for an ice age to cross.
    2. Northern cultures have been using small boats for a long time, so you don't have to wait for an ice age to cross.
    3. If I'm walking from Japan to Wyoming across mile-deep glaciers (as the "they walked here" theory states, what the hell were they eating? Or am I supposed to beleive each walker carried several months of food and fuel (to melt ice for water). A six-month supply of 2,000 calories per day of fish or meat jerky weighs how much? A ton? Two tons?
    4. 100,000 years ago, there were thriving pine forests in Antarctica. If it was that warm there, then it was that warm up North, and the whole north coast of Russia and Canada was probably a great place to live.
    5. The glaciers destroyed almost all evidence of human habitation in the north.
    6. Nomadic cultures use little, and waste even less. Most of what we find from older cultures is from their burial grounds, or from what they have abandoned. Inuit leave very little behind, and a couple decades of winter storms erases almost everything.

    and I'll stop there. If you want more, search for Pre-Columbian new world contacts.
  • These were not the people who now live in Japan.

    I'm glad to have that sorted out. We can't have the japanese people of today coming over to the north Americas 15000 years ago. That would simply be too confusing...

    Instead, there was a dry land bridge from Alaska to Siberia

    For most people at the time, it went in the opposite direction.

    Just being annoying...



  • Indians were here first since they had reservations.

  • ..I learned about were kicked out of England for being prudes. No wonder we still don't have boobs on TV like in Europe.

  • Actually, they stopped in Plymouth because they were running out of supplies, most importantly beer. Water just didn't keep well on those four month voyages.
  • by Bonker ( 243350 ) on Tuesday July 31, 2001 @11:57AM (#2179739)
    I watched a documentary not too long about about this kind of research. One of the researchers' primary obstacles was the fact that many tribal councils demanded that all fossils be turned over to them for 'proper burial' if they were found in tribal lands.

    Of course you can't do composition analysis on casts, which are slightly imperefect representations anyway.
  • >>1. About every 10 years, the Bering Strait freezes over, so you don't have to wait for an ice age to cross.

    True, but it's awfully inconvenient to have to wait those ten years, especially when you are doing the time calculations with carved marks on mammoth tusks.

    >> 2. Northern cultures have been using small boats for a long time, so you don't have to wait for an ice age to cross.

    Try crossing the Pacific (or even the Bering Strait) in a birch bark canoe, especially in a mass migration. Any takers? ;-)

    >> 3. If I'm walking from Japan to Wyoming across mile-deep glaciers (as the "they walked here" theory states, what the hell were they eating? Or am I supposed to beleive each walker carried several months of food and fuel (to melt ice for water). A six-month supply of 2,000 calories per day of fish or meat jerky weighs how much? A ton? Two tons?

    Actually, the glaciers formed on land, and the water was taken from the seas, ergo the land bridge after the water was gone. They didn't walk across on the glaciers.

    Strangely enough, I hear tales of creatures living in the Artic, which not only provide meat for caloric intake, but also fat and oils for heating purposes and hides for fashionable neolithic Winter-wear. Feast on mammoth and caribou until their populations dwindles, then start on the seals, whales, and fish. Hell, why even leave the land bridge with all that feasting to do?

    >> 4. 100,000 years ago, there were thriving pine forests in Antarctica. If it was that warm there, then it was that warm up North, and the whole north coast of Russia and Canada was probably a great place to live.

    I doubt the claim of a forested Antarctic that recently (can you provide a link to reputable research on it?) The climates of the poles, however, do not parallel each other. Given the inclination of the Earth's axis (which changes over time), and the eccentricity of Earth's orbit, North and South recieve differring amounts of sunlight. Presently, When the Earth is closest to the Sun, the Northern hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, and the Southern towards it. Additionally, the weather of the North is driven by oscillations in the Northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans (I recently read a book on this called 'The Little Ice Age')

    >>5. The glaciers destroyed almost all evidence of human habitation in the north.

    The glaciers were extant at the time of the migration, and would have advanced over uninhabited (by human) ground, and retreated afterwards, allowing humans to expand over the newly-exposed surface. Additionally, glaciation doesn't proceed in only a bulldozer-like fashion. Creatures would live (if you call that living) atop glacier fields, and die, leaving their bodies to be entombed in the ice, carried downstream, and deposited upon the ice thawing.

    >> 6. Nomadic cultures use little, and waste even less. Most of what we find from older cultures is from their burial grounds, or from what they have abandoned. Inuit leave very little behind, and a couple decades of winter storms erases almost everything.

    ...And from those remains, scientists can determine relationships (from bone structure, as this article tells us) between populations. Additionally, refuse from hunting and feasting often ends up in the same disposal site, even with nomadic groups (one stays in the area til the food runs out, then one moves on--in the meantime, you toss the bones, broken spears, and dead hunters in that pit behind Og's cave)

    Additionally, a couple decades of winter storms actually tends to preserve these remains. And that, class, is all for today's lecture.
  • "If I'm walking from Japan to Wyoming across mile-deep glaciers..."

    You're confusing the theory, and attacking it on the basis of your misunderstanding. Archaeologists don't belive that migration was across ice, but that enough ice was piled up to drop the sea level, exposing dry land where there is now the Bering Strait. The people-to-be-known-as-Indians were walking across the present-day bottom of the sea.

    You are correct that there was cross-strait intercourse outside of ice ages, but any mass migration would have been during them.

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